Sunday, November 4, 2007


Just as the trees (the deciduous ones, at least) stand naked in the fall after losing their leaves, I feel that I stand bare and exposed when the temperatures drop and the nights grow longer. I don't smile as much. I don't laugh as much. I sleep way too much (that's 7-8 hours for a med student).

Though I love fall weather and fashion (who doesn't love layers?), fall also hails the beginning of what feels like a barrage of holidays. And not just any holidays, but the most hyped holidays of the year -- holidays that you're supposed to spend with your family: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.

My mother died on Thanksgiving eight years ago. She was the only family, flesh and blood, that I knew. Every year, the holidays just seem to remind me of how lonely I feel without her. Pair that with the isolating nature of medical school life, and it's obvious why I feel so alone during this time of year. At the core, I'm still just a child that misses their mommy.

In addition to the holidays, the material that I'm currently studying is a reminder of my mother's death. I read about and study the pathophysiology of congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension, I hear "cor pulmonale" and "dyspnea" and "ventricular fibrillation," and I can't help but think back to how my mother had to sleep propped up by pillows (orthopnea) and how swollen (edema) she looked the last months of her life. There's just no escaping it.

Today is All Souls' Day, so at church this morning I was again reminded of my loss. However, I was also reminded that I'm not alone in my grieving. We all experience loss during our lifetime -- it's part of being human. It was a comforting reminder.

I'm sure there are others in my class who have experienced the loss of a loved one, and it's probably just as hard for them to learn and, in a way, live through the disease or process that took their loved ones life. In fact, I'm sure there are many medical students and medical professionals who have to deal with a similar situation.

We are not alone. I am not alone.

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